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Cold Zucchini Soup with Buttermilk – Too Much Zucchini, part III

Chilled Roasted Zucchini Soup title
We have a zucchini plant in our garden this year.  Just one, as we have learned from years past that zucchini quickly becomes overwhelming.  Fried zucchini blossoms are one of our favorite summer treats, and one of the most cost-effective ways to get our hands on them is to plant our own zucchini plant.

Apparently, though, there is something mysterious in our soil because that one zucchini plant has grown to monstrous proportions.  It’s the tomacco of zucchini plants – each leaf is the size of a cocktail table.
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We are diligent about seeking out the zucchini and picking them when they’re either still flowers or at a reasonable size, and we’ve been eating a lot of zucchini fritters and zucchini bread this summer.   However, occasionally one will escape our notice, hiding under a massive leaf, until one day we discover this Godzilla-zucchini, and have to figure out what to do with it.  They’re more watery and less flavorful than the little ones, and the seeds are enormous, too.

Giant Zucchini

 

Staring at these enormous zucchini this weekend, I was struck with inspiration.  What do you do with any excess vegetables?  Make soup.  But since it is July, and it is going to be 101 degrees at my house tomorrow, chilled soup is the game.

Continue reading Cold Zucchini Soup with Buttermilk – Too Much Zucchini, part III

Fresh Cranberry Pie with Marzipan and How to Make Pie Crust

Cranberry Pie Whole
You guys!  I made this pie because I was looking for a double crust pie so I could revisit my pie crust tutorial (a few things have changed in my go-to technique since the last one I posted), and most of my fruit pie fruits are not in season, but now I’m kind of obsessed.  Fresh cranberries!  In pie!  Why is this not a thing?  Cranberries might be the perfect pie fruit — they’re tart and juicy, but have a pretty high pectin content, so your pie filling doesn’t run all over the place.   The flavor is a lot like fresh sour cherry pie, but fresh sour cherries are only available one week of the year, in very small parts of the US, and cranberries can be gotten EVERYWHERE for at least two months when most pie fruits are out of commission.    And just LOOK at the color:

Cranberry Pie Slice

It’s great, is all I’m saying.

Now on to pie crust. I like to walk my readers through making pie crust, because I feel like so many people are like “Pie crust?  Who has the time for that!  It’s too hard!” and I want to pat your head and say, “No, it’s OK – you can do it.”  You don’t have to own a walk in freezer or live in the arctic to make your pie dough (though it is a bit tougher on a warm day.)  You don’t have to source special kinds of lard or NOT TOUCH IT OR IT WILL BE OVERWORKED.  Pie crust is pretty forgiving.  If it cracks? Patch it.  If you can’t roll it out in a perfect circle?  Nobody cares.  At the end of the day you will have pie, and people will love you.  This is the way I’ve been making my pie crusts, and it works pretty darn well.

Continue reading Fresh Cranberry Pie with Marzipan and How to Make Pie Crust

Peach Almond Slab Pie

Peach Almond Slab Pie Slice
Summer time is pie time.  After years of resistance, I have come to love  a good fruit pie, with juices running every which way.  But as seasonal as it is, fruit pie is not often convenient for summer activities.  It doesn’t go on road trips, or to the beach.  It doesn’t slip into sack lunches for camp, or feed the crowd at the Friday night neighborhood barbecue.
Enter slab pie.  It may sound unprepossessing, but slab pie is a pinch hitter for summer fun.   Sure, a higher crust to fruit ratio makes it neater to take along with you, but it’s also just a little sassier – big enough to feed a crowd, with a slick of icing and generous proportions, it’s the Fat Amy to regular fruit pie’s Becca. (Bonus points if you get my reference.)

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Vietnamese Lemongrass Grilled Pork Tenderloin

Lemongrass Pork t

I first tried Vietnamese food the summer after I graduated from college. I was in the south of France with my parents, who were chaperoning a group of college students through a summer program. We were staying in a hotel in a small town on the Riviera where nearly every restaurant served a variation on the following menu: Fish soup, grilled fish, poached fish, sauteeed fish, tapenade. Although washed down with copious amounts of rose wine, we were desperate for some.. any! variation in our daily bread. So when we stumbled on the town’s only non-French restaurant, we fell on it like starving people.

Vietnamese food was a revelation – clean flavors bright with citrus and fresh herbs and that dank, funky flavor I since learned comes from fish sauce. When I moved to New York that fall, I found a local Vietnamese restaurant that delivered to my apartment, and went to town. I fell hard for crunchy nem wrapped in a lettuce leaf with herbs and dunked in that mysteriously orange nuoc cham, the star anise aromas of Pho (still my favorite food when I have a head cold), delicately crisped Banh Xeo, fragrant with coconut, and Bun Thit Nuong – bland noodles with crispy, savory pork on top. Pork with layers of flavor, charred from the grill.
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Lemon Blueberry Icebox Cake

Lemon Blueberry Icebox Cake

 

My baby boy has just turned one, and I have no clue how that happened.  Just last week he was a tiny little warm bundle, whose floppy body fit – just exactly – into mine.  His head smelled like powder and was covered with just the whisper of soft peach fuzz.  He slept (and woke!) every two hours, and I was his sun.

I blinked and suddenly he’s walking around the house like a bear on his hind legs.  Often with something dangerous – a fork, a length of jump rope, a permanent marker – clutched tight in one grubby little paw.  He has the most delightful sly little smile, which is slower to come than it used to be, unless there is something TRULY exciting, which must also be shouted at and banged upon – like a drum, or a dog.  He likes to tell jokes, and he wants to know what everything in the world is called, pointed and gesturing, and always saying, “que?” “que?”  The peach fuzz is still strawberry blond, but has lengthened into curls – CURLS, which hurt my heart to look at, because WHAT is more darling than a little boy toddling around with blond curls?   When he wakes up in the morning, he goes hunting for his sister, who is the MOST fun person in his world.   He’s not a baby any more.

As if to squelch any doubt remaining in my mind about the end of his babyhood, the cruel calendar came round to May, and his babyhood year (why only one year?) was officially over.  Toddlerhood is officially here, with all the joys that entails (stairs!  And talking!)

So we made cake.  And because I’m busy chasing the little blond monster all over creation, I didn’t fool around with layers and creaming, and baking and frosting.  I made icebox cake.

Continue reading Lemon Blueberry Icebox Cake